Cuyahoga Valley, The Park and Its Railroad
Cuyahoga Valley, The Park and Its Railroad
By Giles Kennedy
(Originally published on the Ohio Railroader Website)
Preface and Overview
I really was trying to figure out how to start an overview of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
I think I will let the folks from the website take it from there.
Then I will tell you my personal experience and why it is so worth the trip to both the park and the scenic rails.
“For thousands of years Native Americans used the Cuyahoga River and Valley in northern Ohio as a north-south transportation corridor. Later the Ohio and Erie Canal provided the early settlers a slow, but easy way to move bulk goods and people.
In 1880, the first steam engine chugged its way down the new Valley Railway, signaling an era of progress and prosperity for the Cuyahoga Valley residents. Primarily built to transport coal; from south of Canton to Cleveland’s growing industries, the Valley Railway also served the farmers, merchants and factories along its route. Depots piled high with farm produce dotted the valley section of the railroad line.
Financial difficulties in 1894 led to the Valley Railway’s acquisition by the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad (CT&V). The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bought the CT&V in 1915 and continued to provide freight and passenger service between Akron and Cleveland. However, the popularity of the automobile caused a decline in passenger traffic on the line. Passenger service ended in 1963. The last freight train operated by the Chessie System ran in 1985.
Today, the historic rails are owned by the National Park Service as part of its goal to preserve the significant cultural resources in the Cuyahoga Valley. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates the excursion train through Cuyahoga Valley National Park in cooperation with the National Park Service.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is 33,000 acres of land that is part of our National Park system. From river floodplain and steep cut valley walls to ancient stands of evergreen, you’ll journey through a world of historic sites and timeless natural processes. A world that still enchants, even after 12,000 years.
Take a seat and watch it unfold. Meadowland, pinery, marsh, river, ravine and wood. Beaver, fox, deer and owl. Amble through small towns. A working 19th century farm. Miles of smooth Towpath Trail to bike and hike. A fascinating canal museum. Big city shopping and more. There’s a wealth of natural and human history in the Valley. A world where time slows, and Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is your ticket in.”
*From the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s overview link
The Many Aspects of The Cuyahoga Valley
As stated in the overview; there are many ways to enjoy the only National Park in the state of Ohio.
Your 1st visit should be a primer. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is the best way during the regular riding season (May-October). Try to pick up the train in Brecksville and stay for a couple hours in Peninsula.
When purchasing you ticket off their online service; look at the map 1st, then proceed with your destinations.
You can view your trip via either the NKS website map or the Ohio and Erie Canalway map links.
Brecksville is a picturesque small suburb of Cleveland on the southeast side of the metro.
If traveling during the day; stopping by Brecksville Doughnuts and Coffee Shoppe is a must.
They are only open 6 a.m.-12 a.m. But if planned right, the service is superior and the “doughnuts” is freshly made every day.
Brecksville offers many nationally known places of dining. Once done grabbing a bite to eat; take Chippewa Road to the park land. You will view the Route 83 Bridge just north of the station/parking area.
The Cuyahoga Valley is not only known for train riders and hikers. It has an equine friendly trail for horse riders.
Many times throughout the year, horse folk use Brecksville as a trailhead to park their haulers.
The train during the prime excursion season departs from Brecksville and many other stops on a regular basis.
Peninsula; as small as it is compared to the rest of Northeast Ohio towns, is the main trailhead for both the CVSR and the Towpath Trail.
The National Park Service Visitor’s Center, Gift Shop and Café plus various shops and eateries reside in the small hamlet.
Right off the train, Ohio’s own Winking Lizard Bar and Grill and local standard Fisher’s are available for dining.
Winking Lizard is a great American staple for food. But, try Fisher’s at least once. The service is great and the food is great, too. The Café and Pub resides in the former space for a Model T dealership. It has been family owned since 1958. There are great relics of the area plus very friendly to Browns fans in the region or visiting.
Peninsula also has a nice falls viewing area adjacent to the station by the river. Many folks have had their pictures taken there.
Again, with the Bike and Ride option; bikes come aboard a specially built baggage car. Simply purchase your ticket either at select stations or online. Grab your bikes and place them aboard. Ride the Towpath Trail when ready.
There are several different options you can do as a family, a couple or by yourself.
Various rides throughout the year included seasonal family rides, “Ales and Rails”, wine tasting, and others.
Every few years, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has their steam queen; Nickel Plate 765, visit the Cuyahoga Valley. My family and I will be riding October 3rd, 2015. Look for a follow article on that amazing ride.
All the special rides and excursions on available on CVSR’s website.
Ohio’s only National Park is so worth visiting. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall; the Cuyahoga Valley is a great family or personal day trip.